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History of Tattoos - Ancient Ink

Author: Bob Matheson

Tattoos are a hot issue today. People get tattoos for lots of reasons. Millions of designs have been applied and continue to be fashioned. But tattoos aren't a new thing. The history of tattoos is a novel, not a short story, and they have been here for a long time.

Oetzi The Iceman

No one is able to truly say when the history of tattoos got started. The oldest identified tattoo was discovered in 1991. It was found on a mummy named Oetzi, an Iceman dated to be at least 5300 years of age. His tattoos are comprised of horizontal and vertical lines. There's some dispute as to why the tattoos are there.

Since discovering the remains, researchers have been able to do little but hypothesize that this most archaic type of tattoo was designed with the intent of warding off evil spirits, or that it may well have been a particular type of rite-of-passage.

The most widespread view is that the tattoos were applied for healing reasons. Oetzi's fifty-seven tattoos are positioned over a number of joints on the body. The idea is that the tattoos were made as a type of acupuncture was applied to relieve painful joints. Today, the very same locations are used for acupuncture. Other ideas vary from social position and ritual markings to ethnic symbols or just preference.

Combined on his spine and at the back of one knee and on one ankle, the Ice Man had roughly fifty-seven tattoos. While it is not possible to do more than speculate as to the actual explanation for them, it without doubt indicates that tattoos aren't unique to the contemporary era.

As the Ice Man was the most primitive mummified human remains found in Europe, today's tattoo fans have the past on their side-- there's nothing "modern" about the history of tattoos.

Ancient Egypt

The Egyptians are one of the most acknowledged ancient societies for tattoos. Dating back to 2100 BC, discovered mummies have been shown to be covered in various tattoos. Women flaunted tattoo patterns that were restricted to women only. These designs were generally a sequence of lines and dots around the body. Tattoos among the Egyptians are thought to have been types of ritual markings.

Oriental Tattoos

In Japan, tattoos had been originally utilized on clay figures. These human shaped figures were representative of a departed individual and were found in the burying place of the individual in whose likeness they had been designed. The tattoos had been embossed or painted on the faces of the figures. It is thought that these designs have religious or magical meaning. The figures have been found in burying places that have been dated from 3,000 BC.

Japan's earliest recognizable tattoo is from 297 AD and has been demonstrated to be for ornamental purposes only. Tattoo designers were named the "Horis" in Japan. The Horis were recognized as masters and eventually created the full body suit tattoo.

Although Oriental symbols are very widespread for tattoos in America, it's not commonly recognized that both the Japanese and Chinese cultures have held a fervent antagonism to the ritual of tattooing throughout history. With both societal and religious viewpoints agreeing that tattooing is a ritual which shouldn't be practiced, it's still considered to be a means of contaminating one's body. For the ancient Chinese, tattooing was used as a punishment for criminal activity, putting such visible marks on somebody to forever brand him as a law breaker.

Tattoos have been found to be present in times past throughout the world. They have been determined to be a statement of an assortment of things such as social position, religious conviction and many times just for adornment. Found on men and women alike, tattoos are discovered in every shape, size and color pattern conceivable. No matter if they have been shown to be something that was once held sacred or they are for ornamentation only, tattoos have been around for a long time and will continue to be here for a long time to come.

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